March 2018 newsletter

March 1, 2018

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Individual and team selection is a challenging process. In order to minimise selection disputes, sporting organisations have a responsibility to implement procedures that guarantee selection criterion is strictly adhered to and that the process is overseen fairly and consistently.

Developing a policy for Athlete selection

Where practicable, the process for athlete selection should be established in a selection policy. As a minimum, the policy should contain:

• An aim
• Selection criteria or standards
• A process through which athletes will be judged
• An appeal process

The difficulty in developing selection criteria is the need to ensure transparency, impartiality and fairness. Objective selection criteria gives an athlete a right to be selected as it does not allow for selectors discretion. Subjective selection criteria gives the athlete no right to be selected as it allows for selectors discretion. Often a selection policy will contain a combination of both objective and subjective criteria as it may not be appropriate to use one criteria over the other.  It is important that selection criteria are developed in compliance with the organisation’s rules and regulations in clear, unambiguous language.

Selecting the selectors

A transparent process for appointing selectors to the selection panel is critical element of a successful selection process. The selectors must subjectively implement the selection policy and understand the nature of performance in the event/s the athletes are being selected to perform in.
When appointing persons from the pool of nominees it is important to consider the following characteristics:

  • Knowledge
  • Respect for the policy
  • Fairness
  • Independence
  • Respect for persons
  • Diligence and efficiency
  • Integrity
  • Accountability and transparency

It is good practice for the leader of the program to be involved in the selection process. This may be by way of advising the selectors with expert opinion, appointing selectors and/or being a selector themselves.

Once selected, selectors should then be appointed in accordance with the constitution of the organisation.

Avoiding conflict of interest selection disputes

At a grass-roots level, selectors generally come from a public call for nominations and it can be difficult to avoid conflicts of interests. The selectors are likely to be volunteers who may have a relationship with the athlete/s vying for selection or who stand to gain from the outcome of the selection decision. One way to clarify concerns of this nature is to implement a conflict of interest policy concerning selectors.   Sports Australia recommends a conflict of interest policy should include:

• An obligation on selectors to make any actual or perceived conflict or interest known to the chair and other panel members as soon as they become aware of it.
• The authority for the chair to ask the conflicted selector to step aside from a particular selection decision where appropriate due to Conflicts of interest may also be reduced, although not entirely eliminated, where sporting organisations are able to balance the conflict of interest. For example, a balanced selection panel may occur when all of the heads of a state sporting program form a national selection panel, all have a bias towards their state but the bias is even as the net result is one bias towards each state.

In addition, balancing a conflict of interest may also be achieved via substitute selectors. For example: if a selector coaches a number of athletes in contention for the team a substitute selector may be appointed to allow a selector with a conflict to step down from the discussion in which their conflict arises.

Appeals process in sport

Commonly athletes feel as if they have nothing to lose when challenging a decision of non-selection. Notwithstanding this, establishing that a decision has been made based on bias, or amongst other grounds, can be very difficult to prove.

It is recommended that a sporting organisation implements an internal appeals tribunal to determine selection disputes. A brief outline of the organisations ‘appeals rules’ should be in the selection policy and a comprehensive copy should be available to the aggrieved party on request.



Should you require further information or require any assistance in relation to selection policies, conflicts of interests or any other sporting matters, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Nothing in this news items should be relied upon as legal advice. The contents of this blog should be regarded as information only, and for specific legal matters, independent advice should always be sought.